Landslides and Water Management

Last Monday night we were hit by a severe rainstorm causing landslides all around our farm. Read about it here.

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4 thoughts on “Landslides and Water Management

  1. Hey Rene, you left me your website details as part of my MSc research and I came past to visit only to discover that you’ve been dealing with natural hazards over the last week! It’s so great to see that the landslides you mentioned as a site risk in the survey were well managed by your earthworks and water system design. Permaculture proof! Can you do anything to manage that water flow off the top of the hill by the phone tower to further protect your site?
    Best wishes and congratulations on the piglets!

    Pippa

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    1. Hi Pippa, thanks for your comment. Ideally we’d ask the owner of the land where the antenna is to reroute the water flow, but with nobody living there it’s a bit difficult to get hold of the right person. Right now it’s a bare channel, so the hazard is worse than it was before. So we’ll stay clear of it for the time being and let all that mud dry out a bit and then we’ll see what has to be done.

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  2. I looked up the “Vargas Tragedy” landslide https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vargas_tragedy. The terrain and patterns look similar. So what is the problem, and the solution? My guess is that the steep slopes do not allow a consistent amount of deep moisture penetration, meaning the plants roots are primarily staying near the surface, and with no deep roots the layer can slide off.

    I was thinking small swales *without the trench part*, only a berm made from compost laid on contour and seeded with deep rooting fast growing plants like alfalfa. These berms should be small enough that if they do get washed out before the plants take hold, that the damage would be minimal.

    I understand the labour to bring up compost would be big, but lets exclude that factor for the moment.

    What are your thoughts?

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    1. Hi jeglinski,

      Thanks for commenting! I checked the page about the Vargas tragedy and I would say their terrain is worse than here. I understand the connection though.

      I think your guess about water not sinking deep enough in the ground on these steep slopes is correct. I am not sure if this steepness allows for creating berms. Maybe terracing could be done, but since the slopes are in our zone 5, we’re going to leave them to nature to ‘fix’. If we wanted to find a solution I would probably go for lines of deep rooted grasses planted on or slightly off contour. Sediment can then be stopped and create small terraces that might improve water infiltration, encourage deeper roots etc.

      If we compare situations like this with what happened in Vargas, I think we need to realize above all to build houses and structures out of the way of these hazards. Some things we can try to prevent, but we’ll not be really able to in extreme weather events.

      Thanks again!

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